A Guide to Writing Product Description Copy for a Website – the view with the customer in mind

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Writing copy for a website is not hard, but you have to write it differently to the way that you would if you were writing for a paper publication. In this article I discuss the essential things you need to consider when writing a product description for a retail website. The article covers the elements you need to consider to make it readable for the human. See our other article on the way to make it optimal for search engines, and Google in particular “A Guide to Writing Product Description Copy for a Website – the view with Google in mind”.

There are two aims for writing a product description:
  1. To get a customer to buy the product
  2. To get Google to realise that the page is “relevant” for that product

In this article we discuss the elements necessary to write a great product description for a customer.

The format for customers:


When loading a new product onto the website it is tempting to copy and paste the manufacturers description – after all, they know their stuff don’t they? This doesn’t work for a number of reasons:
  • Google doesn’t like duplicate content.
  • My product description will be the same as many other websites.
  • The information is usually factual and not written to sell.

To write good product descriptions for the Internet you have to quickly explain to the customer why they must buy the product. This message has to be conveyed in the first sentence if possible.

The description must have the following characteristics:
  • It must be compelling – boring text will result in the customer moving on.
  • It must be evangelical – you have to sound like you believe in the product
  • It must have a call to action. “Buy this now to start saving money”, or “Act now before stocks are gone”, though both those examples are a little too Sun Newspaper for my taste.
  • It must give as much usefulinformation about the product as possible. If the customer is left wondering “how big is it?” or “how heavy is it?” or “can I get it in black rather than white” then he/she will go to another website to find out.
  • It must be factually correct. Errors lead to unhappy customers and product returns (which are horribly expensive to process).
  • The description should list the benefits of owning the product, not the features. So if a kettle has a feature that it comes in black or white, the benefit is that it comes in different colours to match the colour scheme of your kitchen. If the kettle boils as little as one cup of water, the benefit is that it saves you time making your coffee, and saves you money on your electricity and water bill.
  • The description should use as everyday language and not jargon. An energy saving lightbulb might be supplied as an “11W CFL, 3000K temperature, ES cap”. To a layman that means an “11 Watt energy saving bulb (equivalent to a 60 Watt conventional bulb), warm white colour, to fit an Edison Screw (ES) socket – a large screw fitting”

Give detail and colour


When you write your product descriptions, try to make them reasonably long, without making them puffy and boring. If you can entice your customer to read beyond your first paragraph, you need to use the product description both to give them the detail they need to know about the product, and also to sell the product to them. Some products naturally lend themselves to long and interesting descriptions. Others (toilet cleaner anyone?) do not. Here are some suggestions for ways to expand on a product description that is too short and crisp.

1) Get creative. Paint a picture in the customer's mind and expand the text this way. As an example for a chicken coop description:  "When you go out to collect your fresh eggs you will find your chickens sitting safely in the nesting box. Let them out into the run to feed them and then open the door to the nesting box and pick out the still warm eggs." If you describe using the second person singular you can create a "warmth" about the product that simple bullet point listings do not.

2) Look to article databases such as ezinearticles, articlesbase and squidoo for inspiration on a paragraph of text that is relevant and adds some selling points.

3) Search for the product on the Internet and find another site that has more than a simple bullet point description for a chicken coop and take inspiration from the direction of that. Don't copy though.

An example of a product description that includes all (or at least most) of these requirements is here:

http://www.mygreenerhome.co.uk/water-savers-5/watergreen-syphon-pump-from-droughtbuster-80.html

In summary, it is important that you include all the necessary information that a customer needs to make the purchasing decision, but lay it out in a way that Google appreciates. Learn from your competitors, but do not copy.
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